"That You May Believe!" John 20:19-31

Series: Easter 2023

April 16, 2023
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! He breathes forth peace by the Holy Spirit daily and richly forgiving sins within the Church to all who believe that Jesus suffered, died for their sins and is raised to life for our justification. He calls and send men to preach this Gospel, administer His sacraments, forgive or retain sins that we might find peace in Jesus' living wounds alone. Sermon Text: John 20:19-31. Sermon Theme: "That You May Believe!" Preached for Quasimodogeniti, the Second Sunday of Easter, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Henderson, KY by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Episode Notes

Quasimodogeniti, The First Sunday in Easter                           16-April-2023
Sermon Text: John 20:19-31
Sermon Theme: “That you May Believe!” by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

I.N.R.I. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! “Joh 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” Do you? Christ’s physical resurrection rebirths us to a living hope. Sealed to us in Holy Baptism. Why do we live in defeat, fear, confusion? Christ’s Kingdom is come. It is of God, you cannot stop its advance through His living Word.
 Why? Is my foolish heart so slow to believe all that is written by Moses and the prophets? “Concupiscence” is the disease I have. It is inherited and terminal. I will die because of it. It is a hidden disease, many go to the grave never accepting that concupiscence is the cause of their aging bodies marching towards death. Concupiscence won’t show up on a PET or CAT scan - it is revealed through a means that cuts to the very division of soul and spirit - the living Word of God preached. God the Holy Spirit through the scalpel of the living Holy Bible diagnosed me - He who examines my hearts with all its thoughts and intentions declares, “Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–“   Death is my lot from that which I inherited from the moment of my conception. Through David’s hymn sung, God the Holy Spirit teaches me to confess, Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” I was conceived and born in Adam’s sin - without fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin.       Like St. Paul I was certain that I was spiritually healthy - until the Law of God said, ‘You shall not covet” - then the Holy Law of God exposed my sinful heart and its activity throughout all I think, say, and do. Like poking a sleeping lion with a stick, the Law exposed and inflamed my sin to abound in sinfulness. The good I tried to do, I didn’t do. The evil that I tried to give up and avoid - that is what I practice. In despair I cry out with the Apostle Paul, “Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul’s preaching convicts me.
      Our fallen flesh and crumbling culture deny the truth of original sin or concupiscence - the disease that infects us all. We pretend that we are living our best life now as our bodies age, tire, and begin to fail us. We remark how fast time seems to pass, but it is our life that quickly fades away as fog before the dawning day. We pretend that we are our own gods, and can reject the sex we are born with to butcher our bodies to follow deceptive feelings. We imagine that we will live forever by uploading our consciousness into a computer - rejecting the fact that we are body and soul creatures - not just a brain, but a brain and body that is hardwired together to make us fully human. We pretend that reality is virtual - lock ourselves behind the glowing blue doors of smartphones, tablets, and computers - we fear death. These blue screen preachers with their images preach us the Lie first breathed forth by Satan. We pretend that we have many friends, but never physically see and interact with them in the flesh to isolate ourselves from dealing with their deaths. We lie when someone is failing that we want to remember them as they were, than dealing with the pain of their failing minds , withering strength, and dying bodies. All the lies we tell ourselves about our great spirituality hit a stone wall - shaped like our tombstone on our grave. God the Holy Spirit’s diagnosis is correct all are infected with concupiscence and under the just wrath of God - we die and face the judgement. Moses’ preaching of the Law convicts us all.
    All hope is gone, fear fills us - the best we can do is lock the doors - try to hide from that last enemy death - live in fear. Like the twelve we have run away from confessing Jesus, denied Him, abandoned Him - if He appears among us - perhaps it is to give us what we truly deserve - the wages of sin - death. Christian - turn away from your works, and cling this day to the living Word of your Resurrected God and Lord! Jesus draws near today - here and now through preaching: That You May Believe!
      History records the cowardly acts of the apostles(vs. 19-20) Hearing the Easter sermon preached by angels, young men clothed in long white robes, shared with them through the women they doubted. Two of Jesus’ disciples sprinted back from Emmaus with the good news - Jesus walked with them opening up the Scriptures and revealing Himself in the Lord’s Supper - still they unbelief locks them in fear. Jesus advents to them. We don’t find Jesus He comes among us as two or three gather around His Word and Sacrament within His Church. He preaches, ‘Peace!” His perfect life from the moment of conception for me. His perfect fulfilling of God’s Holy Ten Commandments in His flesh for me. His sacrifice of His holy precious blood and though innocent suffering under God’s full wrath for all my sin. His laying down His life for me and giving His body into my grave. His physical descent into hell to preach His victory of crushing Satan’s accusing head upon the cross and forever breaking the sin’s fearful weapon of death. His glorious physical resurrection - proclaiming to the world that His one sacrifice is accepted before God’s judgement bench - acquitting all who trust in Him alone. This is our peace. Our peace is not found in a Risen Jesus, but a Risen wounded Jesus - who has inscribed our names upon the palms of His hands with the nails of the cross. Our ascended Jesus who is with us always as True God and True Man.
        Now Jesus makes this peace yours through flesh and blood men sent to preach victory. (vs.21-23) Absolution is the only medicine for my deadly disease of concupiscence. Our living Lord Jesus sends out peace through His apostles preaching the absolution of the cross through the Gospel. He sends them out to inscribe the Name of the living God upon us in Holy Baptism - marking us as redeemed with the sign of the Holy Cross. He sends pastors to forgive sins. Private absolution was retained in the Lutheran Church from the days of the Reformation. Rome had perverted absolution into a system of penitential works that the sinner had to do to earn God’s forgiveness - thereby obscuring the cross. The reformed scoffed saying, “how can a man forgive sins” and looked to the sinner to make amends by never ending rededication , his sorrow, his good works of giving up his sin. These lies contradict Jesus’ clear word - “If you forgive anyone, they are forgiven.” We clearly confess, “I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself. “ The pastor’s forgiveness is Christ’s forgiveness, on the other hand when a pastor on the basis of God’s Word tells an unrepentant sinner -who is unwilling to trust in Christ’s cross and fight against their sin - that they are hell bound - that is also valid and certain. Behold the peace that Jesus gives us in absolution - it is given to His Church - to every Christian, so St. James tells you, James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” When I confess my sin against my fellow Christian and from his lips comes words of absolution this is the very voice of my living Savior. - I am forgiven, reconciled to my brother by the cross and empty tomb. Husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters - be honest when you hurt each other by your selfishness - your sin - confess - forgive - let Jesus heal your family with His word of peace.
      Thomas misses the Divine Service on Easter eve and in doing so he misses Jesus. (Vs.24-25) The congregation of the apostles take the sermon Jesus preached to them to Thomas. Learn from them to speak the word Jesus preaches to you every Sunday morning through your pastor to each other in your homes, but especially to those who absent themselves from gathering together. Thomas stubbornly refuses to believe on the basis of the Apostles’ Word. He wants proof. Behold our gracious Lord (vs. 26-28) The Church gathers again - Sunday is now the 8th day - the first day of the new creation. Jesus again is among His believers. He comes to the doubter and shows them His cross inflicted wounds - Thomas confesses, “My God and My Lord.’ Jesus in the living flesh is His God who created all things by His Word - He is His Lord who has redeemed him from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil to be His own and live under Him in His kingdom clothed in His blood washed robes of righteousness, innocence, and blessedness forever. The great doubter has become the great confessor of Jesus his Savior - “My God and My Lord!” Jesus’ preaching and His flesh and blood present made the doubter into the great bold confessor of Christ.
      Afflicted with concupiscence I like Thomas doubt that Jesus really lives. Christ gathers His Church - my Lord and my God draws near to me - He shows me His wounds and speaks to take away my unbelief - “Take eat, this is My body” “Take drink, this is My blood of the new testament” “Given and shed for you” “You are forgiven’ “Your sin is taken away as far as the east is from the west.”“Your death is mine, and My life is now and forever yours.’ “Your grave is mine, and my mansions I have prepared for you!” “Do not fear! I am with you always!” “Depart in peace according to My Word.” “This is most certainly true!”
      Where is our hope found? (Vs. 29-31) Jesus speaks an ever-living beatitude. “Blessed are those who see clearly through their ears!” Dead in our sin - our Living Lord and Savior - draws near to us in His Gospel word - recorded by the evangelists. God the Holy Spirit works and keeps us in this one true faith in Jesus through this living Word. Now by faith in Jesus who died for me, rose for me, draws near to me in His Church through His called and ordained servant of the word. A sinful man called to preach Christ alone. Our living Jesus is here in Word and Sacraments - I have life in His name. He draws near and places His name upon me as the divine service ends: Numbers 6:24-27 "The LORD bless you and keep you; (25) The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; (26) The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." ' (27) "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them." - I am forgiven, born from above, recreated in Christ, sustained with Jesus’ living body and blood in bread and wine, departing in peace - sin, Satan, hell, and death have no claim on me - I have life in His name. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

Content Copyright Belongs to Emmanuel Lutheran Church